ONTARIO — A clean fiscal slate, a new Outdoor School for sixth-graders, and an upcoming bond were some of the highlights of the Ontario School Board meeting on Monday night.
Finance Director Mary Jo Evers said the Ontario School District audit was complete. The report, which was delivered to the board on Monday said the audit was clean and was an “unqualified opinion,” she said. This is a judgement given by an independent auditor, and is the best audit an organization can get, according to Evers. Evers said now that the audit is done, she will look toward the budget.
For the Outdoor School, various teachers and staff worked on gaining grant funding from Oregon State University, so all the sixth grade students in the district can participate. Outdoor School is four day, three night interactive camp, by the Oregon coast sponsored via grant, through Oregon State University. It’s not an actual school, but an experience. The grant is awarded annually, to districts. The OSU grant provided $118,820 for the endeavor.
The teachers and administrators began working on the grant before Christmas, with the goal of getting the students involved before the end of this school year. There are 183 sixth-graders from Alameda and May Roberts elementary schools who will participate. Youth will spend four days and three nights at Twin Rocks Friends Camp near the Oregon coast in Rockaway.
Students will get to travel to the coast via four charter buses equipped with bathrooms and entertainment on board. The trip will included 30 chaperones, and OSU encourages school staff to attend, as the grant will also cover costs for extra support staff to substitute the classes of teachers who want to go on the trip.
Activities will include paddle boarding, canoeing, and one chaperone who is a certified in open water rescue, and who swam for OSU as a student. The travelers from Ontario will also stop at Multnomah Falls as well as a fish hatchery on the way to the coast.
Superintendent Nicole Albisu told the board that district leaders are working to get information out to the community about the district’s upcoming ask for a facilities bond during May’s Primary Election.
Albisu said the district wants to get information about the bond out to the public, invite promoters and put up door hangers, but did not provide specific information about how much money was needed, or what improvements would be made via bond funds.
In August of 2018, the Facilities Task Force made recommendations to the school board on which construction projects the school district should focus its efforts and the board unanimously approved those recommendations.
School district staff were then tasked with sending notice to the Oregon Department of Education that it would be applying for state funds to help pay for the $29 million worth of facility recommendations from that group.
According to the recommendations from the task force, $9.8 million would be spent at the high school on a host of projects. These include an athletic field house, adding fire sprinklers to the school’s vo-tech building, replacing classroom windows, remodeling the locker room, remodeling and relocating a band/choir room, remodeling of the administrative office space, and upgrading public building exteriors.
To pay for most of the $29 million, the district will ask voters to OK the bond in May, which coincides with applying for funding from the Department of Education’s Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching Program, which matches up to $4 million for school districts needing facility improvements.
Of the $29 million, $25 million would come from general obligation bonds approved by voters during the May 2019 election, with $4 million from the state.